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Google udgiver Android P Developer Preview

Google has released the first developer preview of Android P, the next iteration of the company’s mobile operating system scheduled to be released this year. Developer previews are meant to disclose low-level changes to the OS and APIs, and allow for application developers to test and give feedback on new features before they are frozen in the final release.

Android P follows last year’s Android (O)reo 8.0. The first developer preview introduces several key features planned for the P release:

Indendørs placering med WiFi RTT

Android P introduces public APIs for 802.11mc, or ‘Round-Trip-Time’. RTT enables devices to measure the time between a smartphone sending a data-packet and ACK to the access point and back. Having 3 or more APs in distance means the device can triangulate its relative position and enable finer-grained indoor location positioning.

There is a hardware prerequisite as both the smartphone’s WiFi chipset as well as the APs need to support the 802.11mc standard with fine-grained timing capabilities.

Hak til alle

Having seen an explosion of vendors following Apple iPhone X’s notch, Google has seen the need from vendors to introduce OS level support for display cutouts. The biggest change in behaviour from previous Android variants to Android P is that the new default behaviour for the OS is to adapt to the notch height and use that section solely for the notification bar, which in general should mean that the notification bar in most implementations will get thicker. For applications that want to use the full screen and include content in the ears of the cutout, they will have to implement the new DisplayCutout APIs.

In general this is a good move on Google’s side as it effectively avoids compatibility issues between applications and device notches by simply ignoring the notches, with the burden of notch integration falling onto application developers. We saw several phones at Mobile World Congress this year implementing a notch, although running very early software that was not optimized for it.

Nye meddelelsesformater og hurtige indstillinger

Android P changes the quick settings UI into a more rounded and less industrial look, with the introduction of circled icon backgrounds for the quick setting buttons. The notification section is also no longer separated by an accentuated different background colour, but simply a divider forming the quick settings and notification area into two sections. It’s odd to see Google move to ever more white UI designs as we have more and more OLED devices released.

A new MessagingStyle notification type allows messaging applications to show more context within a chat conversation such as the last several messages, as well as the ability for applications to show ‘rich’ content such as images and stickers.

Multi-kamera understøttelse

P now includes support for multiple concurrent streams from devices which have more than one camera sensor. The API exposes the relative differences between the two camera sensors so that an application is able to correctly do processing. Google is being very liberal in terms of what’s actually possible here, and the onus of creating use-cases will fall onto developers. I’m wondering how such use-cases will be accelerated as processing on the live camera streams will require a lot of power, especially for video-use.

En interessant tilføjelse er, at nu vil OIS-justeringer nu blive udsat via API'en, og vil vise en præcis tidsstempel for hver justering samt et koordinatkort. Dette vil give detaljer for hver pixel på retningen og forskydningen af ​​hver justering, hvilket bør give mulighed for nogle interessante brugsager, hvis applikationer gør brug af det.

Ny Image Decoding Handling i applikationer

Android’s handling of decoding images onto drawables was relatively inefficient, as simply drawing a JPEG onto the screen involved decoding it onto a bitmap and then drawing it on a canvas. The problem here was the transformation onto a bitmap vastly bloats application memory size. The new ImageDecoder class allows for resources to be directly decoded into graphics memory which makes it a lot more efficient and avoids a whole copy of the image buffer.

Den nye ImageDecoder giver også mulighed for støtte til meget lettere resizing og efterbehandling, og introducerer nu også støtte til animerede billedformater som GIFs og WebP med animation, der håndteres fuldstændigt af API'en og adskilles fra applikations-brugergrænsefladen.

Ny VP9 HDR-understøttelse, Google Promoting HEIF Image Compression?

Som led i understøttelse af nye medieformater understøttes HDR VP9 Profile 2 nu, hvilket gør det muligt at afspille HDR fra YouTube og andre programmer, der understøtter det.

The biggest surprise here is the announcement of Google’s adoption and endorsement of HEIF, which follows Apple’s adoption late last year. HEIF is based off HEIC, which itself is simply still images encoded through the same mechanisms as the HEVC video codec. With both Apple and Google now endorsing the new codec for mobile, and Google endorsing for backends to serve HEIF images, we måske (Mange standarder har prøvet før) endelig et skifte væk fra 25-årige JPEG-standard.

JobScheduler nu bevidst om netværksbetingelser

The new JobScheduler is now able to poll the network status provided by the carrier and differentiates between congested and unmetered networks. Applications can now declare their estimated data size for a workload, for example: an app fetching images should know how big an image is. Applications fetching news stories also can estimate roughly how big that would be – while other jobs such as email fetching can vary highly and should not declare any data size. The goal here is ultimately better network traffic management and large data traffic jobs should be delayed when on un-congested or unmetered networks (such as WiFi).

NN API 1.1

Neural Networks API, der blev introduceret i Android 8.1, er blevet opdateret for at understøtte nye NN-operationer, som udviklere kan benytte sig af. Pixel 2-enhederne vil nu for første gang kunne benytte Qualcomm Hexagon DSP til acceleration af 8-bit-kvantiserede modeller ved hjælp af NN API.

Tilføjelser til Android-kernen

Fokus på sikkerhed

A user-facing change in regards to the UI is the standardization of the fingerprint system dialog. The new API allows apps for a unified way to call for fingerprint reading, and adapts the dialog and prompt based on the device’s fingerprint sensor location. Google recommends developers switch to the new method as soon as possible.

Android P giver nu udviklere mulighed for at bruge en Protected Confirmation API, som skal bruges til godkendelse af korte udsagn som følsomme transaktioner eller betaling.

If the user accepts the statement, your app receives a cryptographic signature that’s protected by a keyed-hash message authentication code (HMAC). The signature is produced by the trusted execution environment (TEE), which protects the display of the confirmation dialog as well as user input. The signature indicates, with very high confidence, that the user has seen the statement and has agreed to it.

Hårdt API-krav til apps senest i november 2018

The biggest shift that we’ll see this year from Google is that the Play Store will not accept new applications (August 2018) and updates to existing applications (November 2018) that do not target the newest API levels. This effectively will mean for the first time a new hard requirement for developers to shift to new APIs. The reasoning for Google here is two-way, first this ensures security related updates will be included into applications, and secondly, it ensures 64-bit packages for the future. This hard API requirement will be incremented every year starting with Android P.

The Play store, from August 2019 on, will require all new apps and updates to include 64-bit variants. I think the goal here for Google is the preparation of the whole ecosystem towards a shift where we’ll see AArch64 only CPUs which should bring with them performance, efficiency, and cost benefits.

Tilgængelig til Pixel-telefoner nu

Android P-forhåndsvisning er det første eksempel, der kun er tilgængeligt for Pixel-smartphones, og som ikke længere understøtter Nexus-enheder, markerer en slutning af en æra på en vis måde. Google har stillet til rådighed manuelt blinkbare systembilleder til Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 og Pixel 2 XL.

As in years before, the roadmap for Android P looks similar with several previews planned. The first two milestones include early testing and development before we’ll see APIs being finalised in DP3 in June, with two further release candidates working towards a Q3 final release.

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